A recent blog commenter (who identified itself as "Whatchoo talkin' '
bout Sidney?") was kind enough to share with me the information that North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper filled out form AOC-CR-307 when disposing of the Duke Lacrosse case. The commenter also told me that the form was signed by a judge. I presume this document was tendered and signed on or around April 11, 2007, the date of the A.G.’s “Innocent Promulgation.” I have not seen the form, but I will take the commenter at his/her word.
The form AOC-CR-307 is a form used by the criminal courts in the state of North Carolina, and is officially titled, “Dismissal Notice of Reinstatement CR-307 – North Carolina.” It is a dismissal form. Since Attorney General Cooper decided to dismiss the case, one acceptable possible outcome by a special prosecutor taking over a criminal case, it stands to reason that he did, in fact, fill out the document. The presiding judge, in signing the document, agreed to grant the prosecutor’s request for dismissal, and make it final. This is what most likely transpired, and such actions seem believable.
What the blog commenter would want viewers to believe, however, is that this document is one that justifies a declaration of innocence. That the judge, by signing the document, agrees with any text within the document that may recklessly state that the Duke Lacrosse defendants are “innocent” and that “no attack occurred.” Attorney General Cooper, or one of his deputy assistant attorney generals may write whatever they want within the document, but at the end of the day, it is merely a form to dismiss the case. It is not a form to declare a verdict or to declare “innocence.” Because of the blog commenter’s bias, he wants to interpret the dismissal form as being an innocent verdict by the judge who signed off on the document. Like Cooper’s promulgation of innocent, this reasoning is an example of overreaching by the blog commenter.
I have not seen the dismissal form used in the Duke Lacrosse case by the Attorney General’s Office, and if the blog commenter has an address where I could find the document, I would be very appreciative. And I appreciate the commenter bringing this form to my attention.
Now, I have no problem with Attorney General Cooper dismissing the case against the Duke Lacrosse defendants (although I doubt that such an act was justifiable having not seen the evidence). He acted appropriately as a special prosecutor in determining whether or not to proceed with prosecuting the case, or whether or not to drop the charges and dismiss the case. However, to proclaim “innocence” or “guilt” was not within his mandate as special prosecutor to the case. What I find appalling is that the media gave Mr. Cooper’s “Innocent Promulgation of April 11, 2007” credibility instead of challenging it. Again, by doing so, the media misled the public who believed it, and insulted the intelligence of those who know better. Likewise, the blog commenter, with respect to form AOC-CR-307, is misleading readers who believe him/her, and is insulting the intelligence of those of us who know better. For us, the Jedi mind-tricks do not work.